More than just a ‘rock’

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Photo by unknown

Story by Taylor Potter, Staff Writer

For years I admired the men that proudly wore the rock around their necks.

For years I heard the stories of their triumphs within the brotherhood.

For years I watched them reminisce about their experiences during “their night.”

Now, I am one of them.

Even though people think it’s strange, I proudly wear the symbol of my service around my neck wherever I go. I tell others about my triumphs and hardships with my brothers, despite the fact that most people don’t care about some Boy Scout award. I’ll even reminisce about “my night” with the adults who asked me to remove my rock because it was “a weapon.”

It only happened a couple months ago, but it feels like years. I remember us all sitting together on the benches, hoping that our names would be called. One by one, we heard the familiar voices of those we admired for their service call our names so that they could hang one of their own rocks around our necks. We were close. We all thought that the hardest part was behind us. We were wrong. We still had “our night.”

We had two hours to prepare, and we spent it like most teenage guys would–with a lot of energy drinks. While indulging our weary bodies, we chatted about what was going to happen, what our strategy was and whose rock we were wearing. Tommy had his dad’s, Logan had his dad’s, Jon had his son’s, but where was my dad’s? I was proud to have been accepted and to have a good friend’s rock around my neck, but why wasn’t it my dad’s? Did he not care?

Ten minutes before we left for the night, we were each filled with self-doubt. We were all wondering the same thing– Did we deserve this? Were we “fit to wear the Gorget”?

Before long we were there. Separated and alone. We were left with nothing, but our thoughts, our God and our fire. Our goal: to fight off sleep and hunger and keep our fire burning cheerfully until the morning. Easy enough, besides the fact that we all didn’t sleep the night before.

An hour in, we heard the call of the forest. It told us each to be expecting throughout the night. These visitors would help us build our fires back up, keep us awake and talk us through our experience.

A few hours later, I received my first visitor–Dr. Matt Young, the father of one of my fellow inductees. He sat down at my fire and just stared into it. After a few minutes later, he stood and told me something that I will never forget, “Taylor, you deserve this. Don’t ever forget it. We’re all so proud.”

Those words inspired me to build my fire higher. In my search for wood, I was looking near the base of an old cedar tree. After finding nothing, my eyes rose along the tree. That’s where I saw my next provider of inspiration. I was staring at the spot where my dad had carved his initials during “his night.” As I basked in the glory of the carving, my next visitor appeared.

My dad had come to visit me. He remained outstandingly casual. He shook my hand, gave me advice on my fire and told me how proud he was. He stayed for a while, helped me get wood and then prepared to leave. But before he left, he gave me two things. He took off his rock and hung it around my neck. He then took out his knife and threw it to me. “Just in case you need it,” he said with a wink. He actually cared. I carved my initials, as best I could, next to his.

The next few hours flew by. My old friends came and visited and helped on my fire. They stayed for long periods, but it felt so short. In what felt like minutes, we were all gathered in front of our Vigil Chief– someone that is probably the greatest friend that I have made out of Scouting’s honor society.

We were called up, one by one, to receive our Lenni Lenape name, our sash and our own rock. We had done it. We were among those we admired. We were rewarded. Most importantly, we all knew that we deserved it.

We had received the Vigil Honor.